Notable anime about war includes Macross Frontier, Full Metal Panic, Kingdom, The Heroic Legend Of Arslan, and Legend Of The Galactic Heroes.
Anime covers various genres and settings, demonstrating its adaptability and drawing in fans with diverse preferences. Some people who don’t know anime well might assume its animations are too flashy or overdone to depict war scenes correctly, but they’d be wrong.
Creating action war anime typically requires a large budget because of the essential high-quality, epic action sequences with their notable expenses.
This financial hurdle could be why we encounter fewer action-war anime titles than other genres less dependent on visual extravagance.
However, we should give each newly released action war anime the recognition it deserves for its unique worth.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes
What can captivate more than a cosmic war spanning across galaxies? “Legend of the Galactic Heroes,” a prominent military and war anime, unfolds in the boundless realm of space. It presents a detailed storyline filled with political intrigues, strategic combat, and breathtaking space conflicts.
The narrative tracks two rival factions, both guided by magnetic and intelligent leaders. The distinguishing feature of this military and war anime is its impartial depiction of both parties, urging viewers to ponder the ethics and imperative of warfare.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Gainax, the studio celebrated for Neon Genesis Evangelion, masterfully produced Gurren Lagann, guaranteeing fans a war anime with action that’s genuinely immersive.
Gurren Lagann confidently showcases its expansive sci-fi war narrative. The storyline focuses on a rebellion where Earth’s subjugated humans rise against an extraterrestrial occupation.
Kamina and Simon, united as brothers in battle, spearhead this rebellion, fueled by their deep desire for liberation and victory. Together with their allies, they challenge the cosmos, powered by their incredible mecha and the collective human determination to advance.
With a style reflective of the entire series, the animation of Jormungand is straightforward yet flawlessly executed in crucial details. As one of the standout military animes with soldiers, Jormungand delves deep into provocative topics from the modern world.
Jonah, the protagonist, transitions from a life as a child soldier to guarding an idealistic illegal arms dealer and mercenary leader who aspires for global peace.
Notably, the English voice acting, featuring talents like Anastasia Munoz and Micah Solusod, was commendable. Packed with unforgettable characters, a compelling story, and thrilling action sequences, the show certainly leaves an impression.
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings
The warring states era in Japan teems with legendary war tales, and anime about war brings them to life. Oda Nobunaga, the era’s most dominant warlord, embarked on a brutal journey to consolidate Japan under his rule, a story vividly captured in Samurai Kings.
Drawing inspiration from a video game series that reimagined Japanese history with a comic flair, Samurai Kings stands out as one of the most captivating war animes I’ve encountered in a while.
The title “Sengoku” alludes to the tumultuous “Warring States” chapter in Japan’s past, a century-long period marked by relentless battles as myriad factions vied for dominion and influence.
Full Metal Panic
Full Metal Panic rejuvenates the war anime genre by melding military themes with high school comedy and mecha dynamics. The series humorously follows protagonist Sousuke Sagara as he juggles between his military obligations and the challenges of everyday high school antics.
When the tides turn to war, the anime doesn’t shy away, offering audiences intense military tactics and heart-pounding combat scenes.
This war anime illustrates that humor can find its place even in the grim atmosphere of battle.
Born from a series of novels rather than a typical manga aimed at younger audiences, Full Metal Panic’s writing boasts a maturity surpassing many of its peers. Throughout the series, each character undergoes comprehensive growth and development.
Initially, I assumed this would be a typical moe anime with a military twist. However, this anime about war pleasantly surprised me by presenting a moe style combined with a compelling story and multifaceted, imperfect characters.
While the show isn’t flawless — with some pacing issues and a narrative mostly condensed into the final episodes — its universe is rich and vast.
The world-building feels too intricate for its 12-episode span (or 14, including episodes 7.5 and 13, which I’d recommend). The series only scratches the surface of what its universe has to unveil.
Xam’d: Lost Memories
In the throes of wartime, Akiyuki, a young man, falls victim to a terrorist attack on his peaceful island. This assault transforms him into Xam’d after infusing him with a mysterious entity called Hiruko. Now possessing immense power, Akiyuki must navigate his life while symbiotically connected to the Hiruko.
This anime about war took me by surprise. I had no expectations, yet it rivaled, if not surpassed, some of my favorites. It stands out even among popular mainstream titles. The soundtracks are impressive, the story captivating, and the characters pull you into the enigma of Xam’d.
Its concept is refreshingly unique, challenging typical binaries. The intertwined narratives of friendship, the ravages of war, and the blurred lines between good and evil — where evil can sometimes be tinged with good — create an enthralling, layered storyline.
Girls und Panzer
Admittedly, I almost scrolled past this show on Netflix, thinking it seemed too outlandish. However, the witty one-liners and intriguing character dynamics caught my attention by the end of the first episode. By episodes two and three, I was all in.
In the 2012 anime, Girls und Panzer, we dive into the lively world of Miho Nishizumi. Hailing from a lineage of esteemed sensha-dō experts, Miho has grown up under the weight of expectations and past traumas.
Yet, her journey takes a twist at Ōarai Girls High School when she and her friends rally around an all-girl tankery club.
This unique sport, featuring mock battles with WWII-era tanks, becomes the stage for laughs, heartwarming moments, drama, and pivotal coming-of-age episodes.
After enduring the ravages of a devastating war, young ex-soldier Violet Evergarden embarks on a new journey. She finds herself working at a writers’ agency, crafting letters that bridge hearts and minds.
Violet Evergarden isn’t just an anime; it’s a masterstroke. From its breathtaking animation to the profound character arcs and innovative storyline, it ticks every box for what constitutes a legendary anime. Regardless of your media preferences, this series commands attention.
Each scene is meticulously hand-drawn, resulting in some of the most exquisite animation I’ve ever laid eyes on. (And trust me, I’ve binged on countless animes!) The dedication to detail ensures a viewing experience that’s nothing short of mesmerizing.
A perfect score of 10/10 for its animation is well-deserved.
Macross Frontier blends the elements of Gurren Lagann and Mobile Suit Gundam. The narrative takes place in artificial space vessel cities named Macross Frontier, humanity’s new home after Earth succumbs to an alien invasion.
Although detached from their devastated homes, humans savor a relative peace until an unexpected threat begins to loom.
During a crucial concert aboard the Macross Frontier, an unknown species of alien robots springs a surprise assault, reigniting humanity’s fighting spirit.
Luckily, Alto, a top-notch combatant and pilot, stands prepared for his shining moment.
The Heroic Legend Of Arslan
When we touch upon war anime set in the Middle East, The Heroic Legend of Arslan comes into the conversation, drawing substantial inspiration from pre-medieval Persia.
The anime unabashedly names its fictional country The Kingdom of Pars, not trying to veil its muse.
Arslan, the crown prince of the Kingdom of Pars, is caught up in a war with the neighboring Kingdom of Lusitania. The plot intensifies as Arslan’s father is startlingly assassinated during his absence, setting off a chain of political incidents that threaten the Kingdom of Pars’ stability.
Kingdom: The Art of Ancient Warfare
Kingdom takes us back to the Warring States period of ancient China, where states clashed in monumental battles for supremacy. This military anime is not merely a showcase of vast armies and fierce battles, but also a gripping tale of ambition, strategy, and the raw human spirit.
Its protagonist, Xin, serves as a perfect lens into this tumultuous era, his journey mirroring the chaos and the hunger for victory that defined the period.
Drawing inspiration from the popular video game, Valkyria Chronicles masterfully weaves fantasy elements into a backdrop echoing Europe during World War II.
The anime paints war with striking landscapes and strategic battles, evoking the feeling of a vibrant wartime canvas springing to life. But beneath its radiant visuals lies a deep exploration of the brutal truths of war, touching on prejudice, sacrifice, and the glimmer of hope in trying times.
While the series has its lulls, its poignant and emotional highs more than compensate. Each character, layered with depth and personal challenges, pulls you into their journey, making it hard not to root for them.
Knights Of Sidonia
Knights of Sidonia stands out in the vast landscape of animes about war, though its animation style can occasionally overshadow the narrative.
At moments, the animation is breathtakingly exquisite, yet at others, it clearly mimics the conventional cel-animation in a three-dimensional format, and I’m still acclimatizing to it.
What truly captivates me about this anime is its enigmatic nature and the thought-provoking questions it poses. It nudges you to ponder issues of gender, love, and friendship, while also immersing you in more profound themes, such as cloning and the ethical dilemmas involving death. Without giving away too much, let’s just say it packs a punch with its intricate layers.
“Barefoot Gen” masterfully intertwines moments of exaggerated character behaviors, but labeling it as a dramedy might be a stretch. Even when characters display heightened reactions, the emotional impact lands powerfully.
The raw authenticity of the narrative gains weight, given that it emerges from a Hiroshima attack survivor. The film paints an unflinchingly vivid picture of life post-bombing, capturing even the nuanced details that might escape the casual observer.
This tale is a deeply personal account of manga artist Keiji Nakazawa, chronicling his harrowing experiences during the Hiroshima bombings of 1942.
In the realm of war anime, while some focus on World War 1, others, like Zipang, dive into World War 2.
Zipang unfolds an epic tale of a contemporary destroyer, along with its crew, inexplicably transported back to the historic Battle of Midway in 1942, a crucial face-off between the US and Imperial Japan.
Drawing parallels to the film The Final Countdown, Zipang adds its unique spin. En route to Pearl Harbor for training exercises, the Japanese AEGIS Destroyer “Mirai” from the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force gets ensnared in an eerie electrical storm.
Emerging from a thick fog, they narrowly avoid colliding with a massive warship, later identified as the “Yamato” – Japan’s most formidable battleship during World War 2.
The Saga Of Tanya The Evil
Surprisingly, The Saga of Tanya the Evil merges both isekai and war anime genres against a World War 1 backdrop. The story kicks off when a man from our era defiantly challenges a deity in a cerebral duel.
After predictably losing, this deity reincarnates him as a World War 1 girl named Tanya.
Determined to challenge this twist of fate, Tanya rapidly climbs the military hierarchy. Earning the “Devil of the Rhine” moniker, she pushes her nation toward victory.
Along the way, her deceivingly cute appearance as a gun-wielding blonde girl allows her to navigate the gray areas of wartime morality.
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex paints a futuristic war tableau. In this series, cyber warfare and artificial intelligence become central to conflicts, causing a melding of man and machine.
Physical battlegrounds and cyberspace become the arenas for combat in this war anime. The strategic might of Public Security Section 9, a top-tier special-ops team, showcases the potential trajectory of warfare in a technologically advanced era.
“Ghost in the Shell” stands out as one of the pioneering anime films that adeptly combined hand-drawn animation with computer graphics, bestowing the film with a mesmerizing and dreamlike aesthetic.
The insightful dialogue also aids in untangling its intricate plot, shedding light on profound concepts of personal identity and the trajectory of human evolution.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
In the vast pantheon of Gundam series, Iron-Blooded Orphans stands out with its ruthless and emotional portrayal of child soldiers fighting for freedom.
It’s a hard-hitting anime about war that showcases the brutalities and hardships faced by those on the battlefield. With its cast of compelling characters, strategic battles, and exploration of socio-political issues, this series is a stark reminder of the heavy price often paid for freedom and peace.
Within the realm of war animes, Vinland Saga stands out distinctly. This series ventures where few animes dare, delving into the tumultuous backdrop of the Dark Ages, particularly the Viking Era.
As Europe grappled with a vast power void following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Vikings emerged as formidable players.
The show boasts impeccable artistry, a testament to the talents of Wit Studio, famed for their work on “Shingeki no Kyojin” and other visually stunning animes.
However, there’s a slight hiccup: the depiction of the sea. For a Viking-centric show, the CGI water sometimes falls short. But given the show’s overall aesthetic brilliance, I can easily forgive this minor flaw.
Grave of the Fireflies
Yesterday, I watched Grave of the Fireflies, hailed by many as the best war anime. My friends had previously mentioned how profoundly emotional and heartbreaking it was. Initially reluctant, I thought, “Why not take the plunge?” By the film’s end, tears streamed down my face.
It stands unparalleled as the most poignant animated film I’ve ever encountered, providing a heart-wrenching portrayal of children’s tragic destinies amidst war.
Unlike the feel-good narratives from Pixar and Disney, which often conclude on an uplifting note – and don’t get me wrong, they’re masterpieces in their own right – Grave of the Fireflies confronts the audience with raw truth. Instead of mere entertainment, this anime aims to educate viewers on the grim realities of war.
Numerous scenes were so impactful that they left me in tears.
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan isn’t your typical war anime. It masterfully infuses elements of horror and fantasy into the grim reality of war. Imagine colossal titans wreaking havoc, while the remnants of humanity cling onto survival within towering walls.
The show captures the desperation, fear, and fierce will to survive that lies at the heart of every battlefield. The anime army within Attack on Titan showcases humanity’s strength and fragility, making it an undeniable classic in the realm of war anime.
Code Geass: The Chessboard of War
Code Geass stands as one of those war animes that pushes the boundaries of its medium. It harnesses every ounce of its potential, delivering breathtaking animation and a tightly woven narrative.
It masterfully expands on its forerunner, ‘Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: R1’, without squandering any moment to dive deep into its alternate history.
In this reenvisioned world, the British Empire refuses to let its influence wane, conquering every territory, including Japan. Intriguingly, Lelouch, a British noble with ties to the throne, grows up in Japan. Fate grants him the power of Geass, enabling him to control others with a mere glance.
Empowered by his Geass and driven by a deep-seated animosity towards his homeland’s imperialistic ambitions, Lelouch embarks on a mission to free Japan and challenge his father, the Emperor.
As he achieves a series of strategic triumphs using his Geass and sharp intellect, Lelouch’s aspirations evolve, aiming for nothing less than global peace.